Thursday, October 3, 2013

Trafficked: My Story of Surviving, Escaping, and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution by Sophie Hayes

This undated photo provided by New Mexico Attorney General Gary King’s Office shows an advertisement issued by the department. The ad is part of an ongoing effort to educate law enforcement and the public about what it says is the little-known and little understood problem of modern slavery. While many associate the term with the sex trade in Asia or cross-border trafficking, Maria Sanchez-Gagne, an assistant attorney general who oversees King's program to fight human trafficking, says most cases in New Mexico involve U.S. citizens forced into prostitution or labor.

(AP Photo/New Mexico Attorney General’s Office)

A young, educated British woman was spending an idyllic weekend in Italy with her seemingly charming boyfriend she knew for five years. But the day she was supposed to return home, he threatened to kill her younger brothers if she didn’t help him pay off debts. For the next six months, she was forced to work as a prostitute. She wrote a memoir about her escape and how her captor remains at large. This young woman is one of an estimated 20 million people who are trafficked for sex or forced labor worldwide. We talk with her and a panel of guests about new efforts to combat modern slavery.


Sophie Hayes author of "Trafficked: My Story of Surviving, Escaping, and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution." (The name Sophie Hayes is a pseudonym to protect her identity.)

Bradley Myles executive director and CEO, Polaris Project.

Martina Vandenberg president and founder, Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center.

Bill Woolf detective, Fairfax County Police

Related Links

National Human Trafficking Toll-Free Hotline

How Many Slaves Work For You?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Yesterday U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced a major policy shift for how the Justice department plans to handle mandatory minimum sentencing.

The gist is that Justice will no longer enforce mandatory minimums for low-level drug salesmen. According to the United States Bureau of Prisons, about 48% of the U.S. federal prison population — that's 90,000 people — are in the clink for drug offenses. Many of them are there for a long time due to mandatory minimum sentencing. That may sound like not too many people, but it's important to remember that America — always striving to be #1 — has the highest prisoner to general population rate in the world as a result. Check out this graphic from Reuters that hammers that sad fact home:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sex Trafficking is Modern-Day Slavery (in the news or not)

People who deprive young girls of their freedom for years and years are obviously crazy sickos who need to be put away for life. Nobody’s going to argue about that. Except that for most of history, treating women like they’re ownable was the normal thing to do. In many places in the world, it’s still the normal thing to do. And although they don’t always get the coverage that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight are receiving, women are being held against their will all the time in the U.S.

About a month before the voluble Charles Ramsey (who turns out to have been a repeat domestic abuser) was helping to kick down the door to free Berry and her daughter, Julio Cesar Revolorio Ramos of Adelphi, Md., was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for sex trafficking a 15-year-old girl. He was part of a multi-state kidnapping and prostitution ring that has victimized hundreds of women and girls since at least 2008.

And then in New York on April 30, just a week before the Ohio case, seven women were freed when another prostitution ring was broken up and 13 people arrested. Most of the women had been trafficked through Mexico, typically by men whom they believed at the time to be their boyfriends. The U.S. attorneys prosecuting the case allege that the women were beaten, threatened with physical harm to them and their family, sexually assaulted, and verbally abused if they declined to have sex with strangers for money. Or sometimes even if they didn’t. This doesn’t sound all that different from what we know about what happened in Ohio, or in Austria (twice!), or in Utah, or in California or in any of the high profile cases where girls have been kidnapped and held captive for long periods. But unless you’ve been looking, you may not have heard about the rescued prostitutes, even though their story is arguably a bigger one.

Read more: